Reinstated President of Toronto Transit Workers condemns International union defiance of Ontario high court order

DOWNSVIEW, ON, Feb. 22, 2017 /CNW/ - The President of ATU Local 113, Bob Kinnear, who has been reinstated to his position by yesterday's Superior Court of Ontario decision lifting the trusteeship of the local by the Amalgamated Transit Union International, has condemned the actions of the local's executive board for their defiance of the court order by attempting to again remove him.  In a meeting last night, engineered by the International Union, the board demanded that Kinnear resign, which he has refused to do.

Kinnear is claiming that the International union is in contempt of court for its defiance of the decision. A hearing into the contempt issue will take place in the next several days.

"It is not about me, it's about the membership," said Kinnear. "A Canadian court has upheld a democratic vote of our members to elect their chief representative. Now this executive board thinks it can simply ignore both the vote of the members and a court decision upholding that vote."

"I look forward to talking directly with our members about their issues, as I always have," he says. "Thirteen people, who find themselves under the thumb of the U.S. parent union, should not be making decisions for 11,000 without closely consulting them, which is what our Local has always been about: membership democracy.

"We have so many issues that affect our members and their families," Kinnear says.

"Metrolinx is being used to privatize our work and take away job security. Constitutional rights are being trampled by the TTC. And now our International union is taking away our members' right to decide who will represent them in these battles.

"This is what we have been saying from the beginning. ATU International is not a democratic union."

In December, 2015, Kinnear was elected Local 113 President for a fifth consecutive term. Despite a unanimous vote at a January 2016 General Membership meeting to uphold the results of that December election, International President Lawrence Hanley ordered a new election for Local President, which Kinnear won again.

The Washington-based union imposed a trusteeship on Local 113 in the early hours of February 3 after Kinnear asked the Canadian Labour Congress to investigate membership complaints about ATU. The CLC Constitution provides a complaints procedure that prohibits a parent union from trusteeship of a local in the wake of such complaints.

Every member of the 17-member executive board, including Kinnear, was dismissed by the trustee. Thirteen of the 17 who signed letters of loyalty to the International were reinstated through what Kinnear and those who did not sign were "intimidating and coercive tactics."

In his ruling, Superior Court Justice Penny found the trusteeship of Local 113 by the International invalid.

"It is clear that the purpose of the trusteeship [was] to quell dissent," wrote Penny.  Justice Penny also wrote that the International "used the trusteeship to silence opposition and to spread misinformation to the members."

Penny's decision reinstated Kinnear as President and ordered the trustee to vacate the Local union's headquarters on Wilson Avenue and return its $10 million in assets.

Kinnear says that Local 113 members will ultimately vote on who they wish to represent them.

"Exactly who is leading the local is not nearly as important as how the leaders are chosen. Since our founding in 1899, Local 113 has been a model of trade union democracy and we are determined to continue that tradition," says Kinnear.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information: Contacts: Sean Dewart, 647.272.9906; Tim Gleason, 416.710.1495.

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

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